Although often associated with women in high-heeled shoes, ankle sprains are a common ailment for all sorts of athletes. About 25,000 people get them every day.
What is an ankle sprain exactly? It's an injury to one of the ligaments in your ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that hold your bones together. Although ligaments are flexible, all it takes is a sudden twist for them to stretch too far or snap entirely.
Ankle sprains are graded according to severity, with Grade 1 indicating that ligaments are stretched, but not torn; Grade 2 indicating that ligaments are partially torn; and Grade 3, a fully torn ligament.
You might get a sprain if your foot lands on the ground at an angle, or with too much force. Your risk of an ankle sprain is higher if you:
1. Have had previous ankle sprains
2. Walk, run, or play on uneven surfaces
3. Wear shoes that don't fit well or don't have good support
4. Play sports that require sudden changes in direction, like football, soccer, and basketball
Ankle sprains are divided into three grades. People with Grade 1 sprains may be able to walk without pain or a limp. But those with Grade 3 sprains are often in such pain that they cant walk at all.
To diagnose an ankle sprain, your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. You may also need X-Rays to rule out broken bones. MRI may show details of the ligament damage, but doesn't need to be done in every case.
How quickly your ankle sprain heals depends on how severe your injury is. Many people recover in four to six weeks. But that's just a rough estimate. People heal at different rates. Your age and general health may affect the pace of your recovery.